by Eleanor McGee
Fourth-year captain, Olamide Zaccheaus, is living up to the meaning of his name. In Nigerian, Olamide means “the blessing has come.” The halfback has embodied this for Virginia’s offense throughout his career. Breaking records seems to be second nature for Zaccheaus. He currently has the UVA record for both career and single-season receptions and is the only player in the history of Virginia football with two career receptions of 80 yards or more. His presence on the field has truly been a blessing to the Virginia offense.
These achievements are the direct result of his unwavering determination and hard work.
“I just try to be the best that I can be and leave a legacy that people can remember and that starts with how I prepare each day,” Zaccheaus said. “I don’t really work towards records. I just want to be the best that I can be.”
This daily commitment has produced exceptional results. While breaking records does not serve as a primary motivator, Zacchaeus did find inspiration in the man who originally set the records he has now broken – Billy McMullen. This past Spring, McMullen came back to UVA to talk to some of the Virginia players, Zaccheaus being one of them. Zaccheaus walked away with some valuable advice.
“He said to trust the work you put in,” Zaccheaus said. “Never go onto the field lacking confidence and attack every opportunity, put in the work to exert that confidence on the field.”
Zaccheaus implements this advice on a daily basis and lets it guide his actions on and off the field. His actions truly revolve around how he can be the best player on the field. He looks to figures who also believe in this mentality.
“A lot of people have molded me into the person I am today,” Zaccheaus said.
However, he highlights three specific people: Coach Marques Hagans, former Virginia running back, Taquan “Smoke” Mizzell, and, most importantly, his mother. Coach Hagans has been a constant source of guidance for Zaccheaus. When asked who helps guide his work ethic, Zaccheaus stated Hagans’ name without missing a beat.
“He was a big part of a lot of my success and my consistency, as far as sticking to a schedule and staying on top of everything and not letting external factors affect how I work,” Zaccheaus said.  
Zaccheaus saw Mizzell embody Hagans’ advice and sought to replicate his actions.
“I always admired how he worked and how he performed on the field,” Zaccheaus said. “I wanted to take that and use it as a foundation. When he was here he was the catalyst of our offense and I wanted to be that. It is part of the reason I changed my number to four because I wanted to honor him.”
Zaccheaus’ most personal inspiration is his mother. Zaccheaus grew up in a single-parent household and his mother’s work ethic is something he constantly seeks to replicate.
“My mom would work morning to night,” Zaccheaus said. “It was through her example that I learned. She worked every day to provide.”
Her endless support has continued, as she is a constant presence at UVA football games.
“She has been to a lot of home games,” Zaccheaus said. “I think she may have missed two home games in my whole career. This year she started to going to most of the away games.”
Hagans, Mizzell, and Zaccheaus’ mother have all shaped his attitude on and off the field. However, Zaccheaus is also motivated by UVA itself.
“The all-around atmosphere of this place,” Zaccheaus said. “Academically it is a great place. If football doesn’t work out, I will still have a degree from UVA and that holds a lot of weight around the country.”
The culmination of these factors has resulted in a career that will undoubtedly remain prominent in the history of Virginia football. Zaccheaus has fulfilled his desire of leaving a legacy and has lived up to his name, as he has truly been a blessing to UVA football.